Saudi Farmers in the Hail area in the North of the country complain about the wheat phase out and the reduction of water subsidies by the Ministry of Water and Electricity.
This makes the even ore water guzzling alternative of growing alfalfa, glover and other green fodder non-viable as well.
Many farmers also struggle with outstanding loans and demand compensation form the government.
The King Abdullah Chair for Food Security at the King Saud University in Riyadh will monitor local food prices and compare them with global market developments.
The concerns tie into a World Bank study that found that despite extensive subsidy regimes there is considerable pass through of global food price increases in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Gulf.
Yet if global food prices come down, local prices do not follow suit. They are downward sticky, which is often blamed on profiteering and collusion of traders.
In its Beyond the Arab Awakening report IFPRI drew attention to the nature of malnutrition n the Arab world. The problem is not so much lack of calories, but of micro-nutrients like iron and vitamins.
By using stunting of children as an indicator, the report concludes that nearly all Arab countries face some form of food security challenge except for the Gulf countries.
This is in striking contrast to the Global Hunger Index of IFPRI et al. whose categories rather measure the lack of calories. (% of undernourished, % of underweight and child mortality below five).
In terms of lacking calories only Yemen, Sudan, and Mauritania show food insecurity. Some food security challenged countries like Egypt, that have severe malnutrition actually also have a large percentage of obese people (30 percent).
The malnutrition situation in Yemen is extremely alarming and is caused – as usual – by lacking access of poor people to theoretically available food. Children bear the brunt of the malnutrition crisis, which affects the development of their physical and mental abilities irrevocably.
An article in Arab News draws attention to Saudi Arabia’s deficiency ecological footprint and explains the methodology of the latter. It encourages the phase out of water intensive cereals and suggests to rein in unregulated expansion of date palms, while the government is at it.
As perennial crops that need irrigation all year round, date palms belong to the big water guzzlers of the region.
Saudi Arabia’s ecological deficit is pretty bad with minus 4.3 global hectares (gha). That means that all the goods and services it consumes need 4.3 hectare more than the biocapacity of the country, which stands at 0.84 gha. All this adds up to a total footprint of 5.13 gha.
Its ecological deficit ranks number nine among the worst countries worldwide. Still, it is slightly better than in other countries in the Middle East like the United Arab Emirates (-9.83 gha), Qatar (-8 gha), Kuwait (-5.93 gha), and Israel (-4.5 gha).